Legendary Pokémon are one of the coolest elements of the Pokémon series. They often have interesting backstories and play pivotal roles in the various Pokémon media. As of Generation 9, nearly 7% of all Pokémon are classified as legendary. Most have something unique about them that makes them worthy of being part of that small percentage.
Let’s look at some of the best legendary Pokémon of all time. For this list, we’ll be including legendary, sub-legendary, and mythical Pokémon. It will not include Ultra Beasts.
Mewtwo Is the OG, and Easily One of the Best Legendary Pokémon
No list of the best legendary Pokémon is complete without Mewtwo. Essentially the first legendary to be put into the spotlight, Mewtwo was born from a failed experiment of trying to clone the legendary Pokémon Mew. Mewtwo was created to destroy, and that purpose is the central plot point of Pokémon: The First Movie as the artificial Pokemon serves as the film’s main protagonist. The film’s events were set up in the Pokémon anime series while Team Rocket was in possession of Mewtwo.
Many witnessed Mewtwo’s mythos in the first generation of Pokémon games when it could be caught after beating the Elite Four. There had been mentions of Mewtwo in the Pokémon Mansion on Cinnabar Island, which makes it an even bigger moment when you go face-to-face with the humanoid creature in Cerulean Cave. Mewtwo has made other notable appearances in other media such as Super Smash Bros., Pokémon Stadium, and Detective Pikachu.
Arceus Is the Original One and Plays a Major Role in Pokémon Legends: Arceus
Arceus is known as “The Original One.” It’s believed by some to be the origin of the entire Pokémon universe by shaping it with its 1000 arms. The idea that a single Pokémon created life and that there may be dissent to that helps establish a living and breathing world like ours.
The 10ft tall beast had the spotlight in this year’s Pokémon Legends: Arceus that helped put a new spin on the series while connecting to already established Pokémon lore. In that game, Arceus tasks the player with going back in time to solve a mystery. Similar to the 4th generation of Pokémon games, the player collects different elemental plates that, when held, change Arceus’ type and the color of the wheel circling its body.
Suicune Is One of the Three Legendary Beasts of the Jhoto Region
Suicune is one of the three roaming legendary Pokémon from the 2nd generation of games, the generation that first introduced the concept. It runs across the land with the power to purify any water it touches. It’s the cover art subject of Pokémon Crystal, where there’s a story beat that involves the player chasing it around the region after it chooses you.
Its design features a perfect combination of cool colors that’s pleasing to look at. It has a majestic appearance that you might see in a mythology book. As a kid, I definitely imagined riding it to school.
Lugia Graces the Cover of Pokémon Silver
Lugia has one of the quintessential Pokémon designs. It closely resembles a plesiosaur while adding a flare of anime to it. It’s covered in scales, and the plates on its back allow it to fly or swim faster when folded back. And look at those big, meaty claws!
Lugia is known to have incredibly destructive power and sleeps deep underwater in solitude to avoid having to use it. That power was showcased in Pokemon the Movie 2000: The Power of One, where Lugia needs to battle the legendary birds Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres. We also saw Lugia’s move Aeroblast in action in the animated film, which was made famous in Pokémon Silver, where Lugia was the cover mascot.
Reshiram Is Introduced in Pokémon Black and White
The Pokédex entry from Pokémon Shield for Reshiram states: “According to myth, if people ignore truth and let themselves become consumed by greed, Reshiram will arrive to burn their kingdoms down.” That alone would make it one of the best legendary Pokemon of all-time.
Reshiram has a dragonesque appearance with a jet engine tail and an interesting tuft on its lower abdomen. The shape of its feet resembles high heels. Reshiram exudes elegance while also looking like a fantasy writer’s dream. It’s one of the Tao Trio and served as the cover art choice for Pokémon Black. It represents the concept of yang and fire, the opposition to the concept of yin and thunder that Zekrom is. According to myth, Reshiram was once part of a single dragon with Zekrom. The dragon split into two after the two wanted different things.
Rayquaza Is the Star of Pokémon Emerald
Imagine looking up and seeing a 23ft green serpent soaring through the sky. This green snake may look threatening, but it helped prevent the world’s end. According to Pokémon myth, Rayquaza was the one to end a devastating conflict between Groudon and Kyogre. This myth was played out in the events of Pokemon Emerald, which Rayquaza appeared on the cover art for.
Like Kyogre and Groudon, Rayquaza is adorned with ancient rune symbols connecting it to its mythical past. It has fangs like a snake and claws that are eerily similar to a Pinsir’s. The shiny form of Rayquaza is worth mentioning as it strays far away from its emerald green color to be a midnight black.
Mew May Be One of the Most Powerful Pokémon Ever, Making It an Easy Inclusion on Our List of Best Legendary Pokémon
Mew is both one of the best and cutest legendary Pokémon of all time. It’s believed to contain the genetic codes of all Pokémon, allowing it to learn nearly every Pokémon move. Its strange DNA made it the subject of experiments to see if it was descendent of ancient, extinct Pokémon. These experiments led to the creation of Mewtwo.
Mew has a simple yet memorable design. It shares many of the body features of a cat and is pink like bubblegum. Its psychic abilities allow it to float aimlessly in the air. It’s known on some online communities as extremely difficult to find in Pokémon Snap or that one Pokémon living behind a truck.
Hoopa Is a Very Unique Legendary Pokémon
Hoopa is one of a handful of legendary Pokemon with an alternate form that’s not a mega evolution. In its default form, it’s referred to as Hoopa Confined and has a mischievous expression and personality. Its appearance resembles how djinn are sometimes depicted, an entity reimagined as a genie in some media. It carries a giant hula hoop and has a smaller hoop hanging off its ear, which helps lend credence to its name.
It can then transform into the terrifying Hoopa Unbound. The appearance of this form is inspired by the Hindu deities Shakti, who are commonly depicted as having six arms. It has a more demonic face and a foot shaped like Genie’s from Aladdin after he’s freed from his lamp. Hoopa can use its hoops to warp objects across space. Hoopa’s unique form-switching and design make it one of the best legendary Pokémon.
Dialga Has an Important Spot in Pokémon Lore
Dialga is a member of a trio of legendary Pokémon that have control over crucial concepts of the universe. As a ruler of time, Dialga can control it as it pleases. Arceus created it along with Palkia and Giratina to manage time, space, and antimatter. And it’s the coolest-looking metal dragon you’ll ever see.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus played a big role in reestablishing Dialga’s lore. One clan of the old Pokémon world depicted in the game believed Dialga to be what Arceus is to the Pokémon universe. Dialga plays a pivotal role in the game’s mysteries.
Ho-Oh Has an Iconic Look That Makes It an Easy Addition to Our List of Best Legendary Pokémon
Ho-Oh was the first legendary Pokémon to appear in the anime in the late 90s during the first episode. At the end of the episode, Ash looks up and sees Ho-Oh flying towards a rainbow following a nasty thunderstorm. This was two years before Ho-Oh graced the cover of “Pokémon Gold” and long before it was revealed to be a real Pokemon.
This bird with a peacock head stands just over 12ft tall and closely resembles a phoenix with the ability to resurrect the dead. It has seven different colors within its wings, which are said to bring happiness to those who find them. Ho-Oh is believed to live at the foot of a rainbow-like leprechauns.
These were just a handful of the best legendary Pokémon of all time. Did we miss any? Should we have included Ultra Beasts? Feel free to sound off in the comments, and we may make some additions to this list.